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How much do I need to replace?


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Okay, I've read 9 pages of stereo threads and crawled around the boat.  I've learned a lot but not sure still what to do.

Do I need a new head unit and a new black box or maybe something less?  I'll probably get a referral to a local dealer/installer if it's more than just replacing the head unit.


Boat: 2013 VLX with stock Rockford setup.  RFXMR5BB at the helm.  Threads indicate an RX3000 portside with the amps.  However I can't see a specific designation on what I could access.



  • Bluetooth works randomly.  Phone can see it one day and not the next.  Means a lot of classic rock on FM
  • old iPod using 3.5mm headphone jack is crackly and terrible quality.  Wouldn't care if BT was working, see massive dose of classic rock above
  • Head unit stops controlling source and rotates through inputs(last fall but not since winter storage)
  • Head unit randomly powers up and down(last fall but not since winter storage)

What i care about:

  • I hate random problems and we have a short season
  • Bluetooth so we can play music with our phones.  Classic rock is fine but variety is better.
  • Part audiophile at home but not in the boat.  Not looking for awesome, just need good and functional
  • Reconfigure so I can fade the music from tower to boat to be polite and not share my tunes with the whole lake
  • Bonus if I can run usb or headphone jack to those outdated media forms

Amps and speakers run great.



Edited by MNNewb
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Head units are cheap. You could get a new one...like a Alpine 172BT on amazon for like 130 bucks and its a good unit with three sets of RCA outs... Thats what I put in and I like it. You can see my post too if curious what I did to my boat. 

New stereo for my 2001 Sunsetter LXI


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If I did a new head unit would that be compatible with the RF black box?  I was guessing not.

Spent a little more time this weekend looking at stuff.  The only real question is if the random power and mode cycling from last September will reappear.  I think I'm going to get a bluetooth adapter.  That's cheap and will solve what is a problem right now.  The JL for $40 seems to be a fan favorite here.  Also figured out that a couple of RCA adapters and I can get the tower speakers independent from the in-boat.  All told for less than $100.   I'm hoping the random issues were a loose wire, moisture, or something that doesn't come back.

One question, what the easiest way to get at the wires for the black box?  Is it to unscrew the board that has all the amps and bb attached to it?


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13 minutes ago, MNNewb said:

If I did a new head unit would that be compatible with the RF black box? 

The black box is the head unit. So it and its wired display, would be removed in favor or  new head unit/media unit. 

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1 hour ago, MLA said:

The black box is the head unit. So it and its wired display, would be removed in favor or  new head unit/media unit. 


Sorry, maybe I used the wrong terminology.  I thought the head unit is different than the black box.  The HU is a the helm and the black box is the brains mounted port side with the amps?  Per RF website: "The RFXMR5BB is a wired remote controller for hide-away black box source unit."  Is the HU and the black box one and the same?  If so, what is the right term for the tuner/receiver/brains?

Terminology aside, are different head units compatible with most tuners?  Meaning if I got a new head unit from JL, Fusion, etc will that work with my existing Rockford tuner(RFXx000) or do these always need to be purchased in compatible pairs?

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The black box does nothing without the screen and the screen does nothing without the black box. The screen is just a remotely mounted head unit screen. If you get a new head unit, you would be doing away with the black box and screen.  

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Update:  installed the JL Bluetooth dongle and a couple rca cables to use the fader for the tower speakers.  So far so good.  Thanks again to the Crew for all the threads on the JL Dongle, it's great!

If someone is coming across this later, here's my tip to make the install easier.  Get a good light source.  I put a trouble light so I could actually read the labels on the wires, saved a bunch of time and headache.  

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